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Made in Dagenham: Ford factory celebrates 90 years

Ford DagenhamOn 17 May 1929, Edsel Ford – only son of Henry Ford – cut a small strip of turf from the Dagenham marshes. It was a symbolic first step in the construction of a new factory. And, unlike the car that later bore Edsel’s name, Dagenham would go on to be wildly successful.

Today, Dagenham makes and exports around a million diesel engines a year. And a £460 million investment in Ford’s new ‘Panther’ production line, which builds diesels for the Kuga SUV and Transit van, means production will increase still further.

To celebrate the factory’s 90th anniversary, we shared a slice of Blue Oval cake with some of its staff. Here’s the story so far.

Prefect makes a million

Ford Dagenham

Dagenham was a huge operation from the start; the site had its own steel foundry, power station and on-site railway. Construction took two years and vast quantities of concrete – essential to support the foundations on soggy marshland.

The first vehicle off the production line was a Ford AA truck, based on the successor to the legendary Model T.  However within less than a decade, Dagenham would become part of the war effort, building engines and armoured vehicles.

Normal service was swiftly resumed once World War Two ended, and the factory built its millionth car – a 10hp Prefect – in 1946. Famously, it was priced at exactly £100.

Industrial action

Ford Dagenham

The factory expanded hugely in the 1950s, producing popular cars such as the Anglia and Zephyr. The all-conquering Cortina was also built in Dagenham from 1962, with the millionth diesel engine following in 1965.

However, it wasn’t all plain sailing. In 1968, Ford’s female sewing machinists went on strike, demanding the same hourly wage as their male colleagues. With no car seat covers being made, car production at Dagenham ground to a halt.

After three weeks, the strike was resolved, the workers’ action leading to the Equal Pay Act of 1970. It also inspired Made in Dagenham, a West-End musical and film starring Sally Hawkins and Bob Hoskins.

The engine of change

Ford Dagenham

By the 1970s, the plant looked dated and more industrial strife (not unique to Ford) was taking its toll. The company decided to build its new Escort in Saarlouis, Germany, while production of the Fiesta was shared with a new site in Valencia, Spain.

Likewise, the 1982 Sierra was jointly produced with the Genk facility in Belgium, and by the 1990s only the Fiesta (and its Mazda 121 cousin) we being made in Dagenham.

The final Fiesta rolled off the line in 2002, leaving Dagenham as purely an engine plant, a role in which – despite large areas of the original site falling into disuse – it has thrived.

Ninety not out

Ford Dagenham

Ford’s new Panther line is a case in point. Here, in this clinically-clean facility, diesel cylinder heads, blocks and crankshafts are CNC-machined from the raw materials. The process is mesmeric, the rate of production staggering.

Yet Dagenham remains a huge part of the community, too. Generations of the same families have worked here, and many employees have spent their entire careers on-site.

Kenneth Blackmore, who cuts the cake, has been building engines at Dagenham for 48 years. “It’s changed a bit during that time,” he tells me.

2019 Ford Performance-Mustang Supercar Wins Again in Perth

Australian Ford Mustang Supercar racer just can’t stop winning

2019 Ford Performance-Mustang Supercar Wins Again in PerthFord Performance had high hopes for the all-new V8 Mustang in its debut season of the Virgin Australian Supercars Championship.

However, we’re not sure even Ford could have predicted the level of dominance from the Supercar ‘Stang so far.

Of the 12 races held, Ford Mustang GTs have topped the podium an incredible 11 times. The 2018 Drivers’ Championship winner Scott McLaughlin has taken eight of those wins alone, and he looks set to carry on doing the same.

The latest rounds in Perth, Western Australia, saw the DJR Penske Shell V-Power Racing Mustangs take two more victories beneath the floodlights.

Racing at night seemingly had no effect the Mustang’s performance, with the Fords taking a commanding 1-2-3 result in the first race of the weekend.

Fabian Coulthard led home the pack, with DJR Penske teammate McLaughlin in second place. Tickford Racing’s Chaz Mostert completed the race 11 podium.

2019 Ford Performance-Mustang Supercar Wins Again in PerthRace 12 saw Scott McLaughlin re-establish his dominance, taking another win to increase his career total to 33 victories, and extending his lead in the 2019 Drivers’ Championship fight.

Predicting a Mustang frenzy at the Western Australia rounds should have been easy, given that McLaughlin secured pole position for both races. He also managed to set a new lap record around the Perth circuit in the process.

However, not everyone is pleased with the Blue Oval’s success in 2019, with the technical department of the Australian Supercars Championship requiring Ford teams to make changes to the Mustang.

2019 Ford Performance-Mustang Supercar Wins Again in PerthAhead of the two Perth races, those teams fielding the Mustang were told to alter the size of the rear-wing endplates, along with making other mandatory aerodynamic tweaks.

This was intended to keep the racing in the Supercars Championship as close as possible, and ensure even parity with the rival Holdens and Nissans. But it was a move that seemingly had little effect.

Earlier in the season, changes were also made to the Mustang’s centre of gravity, despite the design of the car having been tested and homologated by series organisers and other rival manufacturers.

2019 Ford Performance-Mustang Supercar Wins Again in PerthMark Rushbrook, global director of motorsport at Ford Performance, commented: “We have worked so hard alongside Shell V-Power Racing and Tickford Racing, so to come to Perth and see Mustang in such competitive form is such a great feeling.”

As the alterations imposed by the Supercars technical team failed to dampen the abilities of the Mustang in Perth, the question will be whether more drastic measures will be necessary.

With 19 races still left in the Australian Supercars calendar, including the legendary Bathurst 1000 endurance event in October, there is time left for further attempts to slow the Mustang down.

Whether on-track, or in the scrutineering office, we can certainly expect the Ford Performance Mustang to keep grabbing headlines Down Under in 2019.

For sale: Ford Escort made from £78k of gold, silver and diamonds

Gold Ford Escort

We love a good car auction, but this one is a bit different. This 1:25 scale Ford Escort could sell for as much as a real one. For reference, classic Escorts go for more than £50,000 in good condition.

What could possibly be so special about a scale model? Well, it’s no kids toy. This Escort, if melted down and sold for scrap, would be worth £78,000. See, it’s not your average Bburago model, being made of gold, silver and diamonds.

This scale replica of Ari Vatanen’s late-1970s works rally car has been a 25-year labour of love for jeweller Russell Lord. He himself owns a sizeable collection of 55 full-sized Escorts.

“It’s been a hobby that I’ve come back to again and again, but three years ago I determined to finish it,” said Lord.

“I know this car inside out – so there were no plans. I just built it from the ground up piece by piece.”

Breaking down the precious Escort

So, where do all the precious bits go? Well, the body is made of silver, while the brakes, spoiler and wheels are gold. The grille is white gold, and flanked by 72-point diamonds for the headlights. The indicators and brake lights are the correct colours, being made of orange sapphire and ruby respectively.

Inside, it features a moving platinum gear shifter with diamonds in it, while the engine pulleys spin as they would on the real car. The windows were a particularly tricky, and involved smashing vases until glass fragments of the correct size and shape were found.

So, if you’ve got the money, this Escort could be an intriguing buy. We hope it pulls in the cost of the materials at least. As for 25 years of man-hours? We’re scared to do the maths for that.

Get bidding online at www.themarket.co.uk on May 2. All profits will be donated to charity.

BP Chargemaster rapid charging hub at Milton Keynes Coachway

How big data is used to improve electric car charging

BP Chargemaster rapid charging hub at Milton Keynes Coachway

Ford has developed an algorithm that should make it easier to pinpoint the best places to install new rapid charging points.

According to Zap-Map, there are currently 4,826 rapid charge connectors spread across 1,447 different locations, with 180 new connectors installed in the last month alone.

Now, data scientists at Ford have developed an algorithm based on more than one million kilometres of driving data – including where people actually stopped – to pinpoint the best sites for new charging points.

Ford fitted 160 connected vans with a plug-in device to record journey data, generating more than 500 million data points from 15,000 days of vehicle use. Information collected included where vehicles went, where they stopped and how long they stopped for.

The analysis would help drivers integrate charging within their normal journeys, rather than making detours to out-of-the-way locations, Ford says.

Crucially, a great deal could be achieved through deploying a relatively small number of strategically positioned rapid-charging stations, rather than taking a scattergun approach.

‘Make a real difference’

BP Chargemaster rapid charging hub at Milton Keynes Coachway

“Being able to harness, analyse and leverage the huge amounts of data that is available through existing vehicle use can make a real difference to how easy we find it to get about in the cities of the future,” said John Scott of Ford Mobility.

“We at Ford are committed to delivering smart vehicles for a smart world – including electric vehicles that will contribute to cleaner, quieter towns and cities. But we also want to try to use data to help improve investment efficiency into the necessary infrastructure to support that approach.”

Rapid-charging stations can provide up to 80 percent battery charge in 30 to 40 minutes, but an improved network is required to support the expected growth in the EV sector.

“Electrification changes the way we drive – and refuel – our vehicles. We realise that charging time and behaviour are fundamentally different for electric vehicles compared with traditional models, where refilling with petrol or diesel may take only five minutes,” said Scott.

“In locating these additional charging points, we’ve attempted to take into account regular driving and stopping patterns so that topping up slots into drivers’ regular day-to-day activities.”

Lurid and limited: Ford Performance Edition tricks out the Fiesta ST

Ford Performance Edition Fiesta ST

Bringing back vivid memories of the bright orange second-generation Ford Focus ST is the new Ford Performance Edition of the latest Fiesta ST. Resplendent, as you can tell, in Deep Orange.

Limited edition, unlimited appeal?

How do you increase the appeal of what has to be one of the best-loved and most accomplished hot hatches on sale? Well, it’s a limited edition. Just 600 of these Ford Performance Editions are to be made, exclusive to the home of the hot hatch – the UK, of course.

Under the skin

Ford Performance Edition Fiesta ST

The standard Fiesta ST might be excellent, but it’d be nice if the Ford Performance Edition was a bit more than a lick of paint. Happily, it is, with a Nurburgring-tuned coilover suspension package. Manual adjustment features, with 12 bump and 16 rebound settings you can tune your setup with. It wouldn’t be a Ford without some lurid colour contrast, so yes, the springs are bright blue.

You also get a set of exclusive 18-inch flow formed alloy wheel design on your Ford Performance Edition Fiesta ST, and you know something, it looks properly cool.

Standard features that would otherwise be optional on a normal ST include the Performance Pack (complete with Quaife LSD), launch control, shift lights, the lovely B&O sound system and distinctive LED headlamps.

What price for Ford Performance?

Ford Performance Edition Fiesta ST

Final pricing is yet to be decided for the Ford Performance Edition, which will go on sale from June 2019. Ford says the standard fitment on this car adds up to around £3,000 of options over the standard ST-3. This could turn out to be a Porsche 911 GTS-style bang-for-your-buck scenario, by the time cars are delivered in September 2019.

For now, we can’t see a thing wrong with a well-specced, upgraded, brightly coloured version of one of the best hot hatches of the moment. Doesn’t sound entirely unlike the original Clio Trophy…

Ford Puma SUV teaser

The Ford Puma is back – as a small SUV

Ford Puma SUV teaserThe Ford Puma is making a comeback, and will switch from a two-door coupe famously ‘driven’ by Steve McQueen in the 1990s, into a Fiesta-based small SUV to take on the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur.

Ford gave a preview of the new car, hidden behind smoke and lasers, at its big Go Further briefing event in Amsterdam. The Puma will be revealed in full this summer, and go on sale later in 2019.

The new Puma SUV will not replace the Ecosport, says Ford. Rather, it will line up between that and the larger Kuga, which itself has just been revealed in all-new guise.

Collectively, the Ecosport and Kuga clocked up 65,000 sales between them in Britain last year, which the firm won’t want to lose. It hopes the new Puma will find many more additional buyers instead.

Other rivals for the new Puma include the Volkswagen T-Cross, Seat Arona and forthcoming Skoda Kamiq.

Ford Puma: a crossover SUV

Ford Puma SUV teaser close-up

Obscured by a laser light show, the lines of the new Ford Puma can still be made out. It appears compact and, like its rivals, should offer a ‘Fiesta-plus’ look and dimensions.

The car has a tough, chunky stance, sits higher off the ground than a Fiesta and has exaggerated features, including its grille and wheelarches.

Curvaceous side lines feed into bold haunches at the rear, while a coupe-like window line that gets shallower at the back nods to the Puma’s coupe heritage.

The new Puma is far more stylish than the boxier, more 4×4-like Ecosport and, says Ford of Europe president Stuart Rowley, will “turn heads on Friday night, and swallow your flat-pack furniture with ease on Saturday afternoon.”

Practicality has been a real focus for the Puma development team. It will provide ‘best-in-class’ luggage capacity, with a 456-litre boot – much bigger than many family hatchbacks.

The deep boot is a result of customer demand, says Ford. It’s so big, it will swallow two golf bags standing upright.

“Innovatively engineered and seductively styled, we think Puma is going to really resonate with compact-car customers in Europe… they [will] drive the best-looking car they’ve ever owned.”

Puma power

Ford Puma Tease

The new Ford Puma SUV will be available as a 48V mild hybrid. A 1.0-litre three-cylinder Ecoboost turbo petrol engine is paired with a belt-driven integrated starter/generator – that’s a starter motor that can also operate as an electric motor.

With energy supplied by a lithium-ion battery back, it allows extended engine stop-start and also provides an electric drive boost to ‘fill in’ gaps in engine power.

Ford has therefore been able to fit a much larger turbocharger, which is why the Ecoboost Hybrid Puma will produce a punchy 155 horsepower. Fuel consumption will be low too, promises the firm.

Other engines will be available, including non-hybrid versions of the fuel-sipping Ecoboost petrol.

Ford will build the new Puma at its factory in Croatia. It is, however, described as an SUV for Europe, meaning exports to markets such as North America are unlikely. 

Bosses secretly believe that demand for the new Ford Puma crossover SUV will see the factory operate at capacity just to serve eager European customers.

Watch: Original Ford Puma coupe TV ad

All-new Ford Kuga: everything you need to know

New 2020 Ford KugaThe new Ford Kuga has been revealed in Amsterdam, ahead of launching to UK buyers in early 2020. Derived from all-new underpinnings, the new Kuga also wears a sporty new Focus-inspired style, immediately making the current car, a UK top-10 best-seller, look dated and upright. 

The new car brings a number of Ford firsts, with the headliner being the availability of mild-, full-, and plug-in hybrid electrified drivetrains alongside regular turbocharged petrol and diesel. Ford said earlier this year that every new model from now on will include an electrified option: the Kuga drives that message home with three of them announced at launch.

2019 Ford Kuga

A new Ford Kuga Plug-In Hybrid emits as little as 29g/km CO2, has claimed fuel economy of 235mpg (with a full battery, needless to say) and will travel for over 30 miles in pure electric mode.

Ford sold over 40,000 Kuga in the UK alone last year; such a broad array of hybrid variants, crowned by the Plug-in Hybrid, is big news.

2019 Ford Kuga

Other new Ford features include a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and active noise control to make top-line models even more refined and peaceful. But the headliner for many will be the Kuga’s curvaceous new looks.

Design

2019 Ford Kuga

Ford calls the proportions more ‘premium’. It has a longer wheelbase, longer bonnet, steeper angle to the windscreen and a lower roofline. The surfaces are both more sculpted and more simplified, and the designers say it creates a more energetic appearance than before.

The new Kuga is offered in three different variants: Titanium, Vignale and ST-Line. Titanium opens things with 17-inch alloys, body-colour side gladding, LED daytime running lights and a front skid plate and rear diffuser.

2019 Ford Kuga

Posh Vignale has fancier bumpers and Vignale “ornamentation”, satin-finish roof rails and trim details, chrome tailpipes at the rear and a Vignale chrome mesh grille up front. 18-inch alloys are standard; 19- and 20-inch are optional.

Kuga ST-Line finishes the grille, front skid plate, roof rails and rear diffuser in black. It has twin sports tailpipe exhausts, more aggressive 18-inch or optional 19-inch alloys, and a bigger roof spoiler.

2019 Ford Kuga

As for colours, there are 12 of them, with new hues including metallic Diffused Silver and Sedona Orange. There’s a new Vignale-exclusive colour, Blue Panther, alongside existing triple-coat Lucid Red and Star White.

Interior

2019 Ford Kuga

The new Kuga is much more spacious than the current mode. Outside, it is 89mm longer, 44mm wider, and has a 20mm longer wheelbase. Inside, there is 43mm more shoulder room, 57mm more hip room plus, in the back, 20mm more shoulder room and 36mm more hip room for rear passengers.

Despite the overall height being 20mm lower, there is 13mm more headroom in the front and 35mm in the back. And not only are heated outer rear seats now optionally available, but the rear bench seat also moves back and forth – pick from either “best-in-class” 124mm rear legroom, or a 67-litre bigger boot.

2019 Ford Kuga

The new dashboard is of higher quality, and much easier to use. The simplified, Ford Focus-inspired layout is built around a freestanding 8-inch Ford Sync 3 touchscreen (which has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, free of charge). Wireless smartphone charging and a punchy 575-watt B&O premium sound system are also available, as is a detailed head-up display.

2019 Ford Kuga

The 12.3-inch digital cluster is described as 24-bit ‘true colour’. The images and icons are detailed, high definition, easy to read and use the full colour spectrum. This makes them both brighter, but less tiring on the eyes.

Active Noise Control is fitted to the Kuga Plug-In Hybrid Vignale, Kuga EcoBlue Hybrid and Kuga 2.0-litre EcoBlue Vignale models. It uses three microphones in the interior and plays opposing sound waves through the audio system to make these models even more peaceful than regular cars.

New 2020 Ford Kuga

Kuga Vignale also gets rich Windsor leather seats with the trademark Vignale hexagon pattern design and deep-pile velour floor mats. ST-Line gets a dark headliner, ST-line sports seats and floor mats, a flat-bottom steering wheel, and red contrast stitching throughout.

Engines

2019 Ford Kuga

The new Kuga engine line-up is very comprehensive. The flagship is the Kuga Plug-In Hybrid. This uses a 2.5-litre four-cylinder Atkinson cycle petrol engine (inherently more efficient than normal petrol engines) combined with an electric motor and 10.3kWh lithium-ion battery. As well as emitting 29g/km CO2, it also produces 225hp – and the batteries charge on a domestic socket from flat in four hours.

2019 Ford Kuga

The Kuga Hybrid is like the Plug-in Hybrid but without such a big battery. It will thus be cheaper to buy, but the economy figures aren’t as impressive. It arrives later in 2020 and Ford is talking about 130g/km CO2 and economy of 50.4mpg (still decent for a petrol engine).

The Ford EcoBlue Hybrid is the mild hybrid option. It pairs a 150hp 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel with a 48V lithium-ion battery and a combined starter/generator. Energy is recovered under braking so the motor can provide a boost during acceleration, taking the load off the engine and improving efficiency. It also powers the car’s electrical systems.

Result? 132g/km CO2 and 44.5mpg (under strict new WLTP fuel economy regulations).

2019 Ford Kuga

Conventional engines include a 180hp 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel, 120hp 1.5-litre EcoBlue, and 1.5-litre EcoBoost turbo petrol with 120hp or 150hp. (Remember, it’s EcoBlue for diesel, EcoBoost for petrol.)

The clever EcoBoost is a three-cylinder, and can actually run as a two-cylinder during low-load use, thanks to cylinder deactivation. Both front-wheel drive and all-wheel-drive variants are available; there’s a choice of six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic gearboxes.

2019 Ford Kuga

All hybrid models are autos. And there’s further reason to go auto – via the FordPass Connect app, they can be started remotely with your smartphone, should you wish to worry the planet by warming it up on your drive in a morning.

The new Kuga is the first Ford SUV derived from the global C2 architecture first seen in the latest Ford Focus. It is up to 90kg lighter than before, and 10 percent more rigid, which should mean better handling and a more refined drive than the current car.

New 2020 Ford Kuga

We already know how well the Focus drives. If the Kuga can deliver a similar experience, the new Kuga will certainly turn out to be one of the driver’s picks of the sector.

All-new Ford Escape: everything you need to know

New Ford Escape revealed

The all-new Ford Escape has been revealed in Europe, ahead of first deliveries this fall. Derived from all-new underpinnings, the new Escape will be built in Kentucky and, as the company’s second best-selling vehicle in the United States, it’s a hugely important launch for Ford.

The new car brings a number of Ford firsts, with the headliner being the availability of two all-new hybrids alongside regular EcoBoost gasoline engines. Ford said earlier this year that every new model from now on will include an electrified option: the Escape drives that message home with two of them announced at launch.

A new Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid will travel for over 30 miles in pure electric mode, while the standard hybrid delivers an estimated range of more than 500 miles. Ford said that every model in the Escape range will deliver at least 400 miles per tank.

Other new Ford features include a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and active noise control to make top-line models even more refined and peaceful. But most heads will be turned by the Escape’s curvaceous new look.

Design

New Ford Escape rear

Ford calls the proportions more ‘premium’. It has a longer wheelbase, longer hood, steeper angle to the windshield and a lower roofline. The surfaces are both more sculpted and more simplified, and the designers say it creates a more energetic appearance than before.

The shield-shaped trapezoidal grille is inspired by the sixth-generation Mustang, while the lower front end is inspired by the Ford GT.

It’s the most aerodynamic Escape to date, while the extensive use of high-strength, lightweight steels means that the new model is around 200 pounds lighter than the outgoing version.

“This all-new Escape brings a sleeker, sportier design with the capability to take you on just about any of your life’s adventures,” said Kumar Galhotra, Ford’s president, North America. “With our class-leading hybrid powertrains, customers will spend less time at the gas station and more time on the road.”

Interior

New Ford Escape interior

The new Escape is far more spacious than the current mode. Outside, it is 3.5 inches longer, 1.8 inches wider, and has a 0.8 inch longer wheelbase. Inside, there is 1.7 inches more shoulder room, 2.2 inches more hip room plus, in the back, 0.8 inches more shoulder room and 1.4 inches more hip room for rear passengers.

Despite the overall height being 0.8 inches lower, there is 0.5 inches more headroom in the front and 1.4 inches in the back. The rear bench seat also moves back and forth – pick from either “best-in-class” 4.8 inches of rear legroom, or a 67-liter bigger boot.

The new dashboard is of higher quality, and much easier to use. The simplified layout includes an available 12.3-inch digital cluster described as 24-bit ‘true color’. The images and icons are detailed, high definition, easy to read and use the full color spectrum. This makes them both brighter, but less tiring on the eyes.

New Ford Escape head-up

In a first-for-Ford in North America, the Titanium trim gets a head-up display, projecting important information onto a 6-inch screen in front of the driver.

Selectable driving modes are standard across the range, as is Ford Co-Pilot360, 4G wifi for up to ten mobile devices (subject to subscription), and an 8-inch touchscreen for all except the entry-level S trim. Other features and options, depending on the trim level, include Active Park Assist 2.0, Evasive Steering Assist and Sync 3 with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

A 575-watt, 10-speaker B&O Sound System by Bang & Olufsen is also available.

Engines

New Ford Escape instrument cluster

The flagship engine is the Escape Plug-In Hybrid, which is available on every trim level except S and SE Sport This uses a 2.5-liter four-cylinder Atkinson cycle gasoline engine (inherently more efficient than normal gasoline engines) combined with an electric motor and 10.3 kWh lithium-ion battery.

The Escape Hybrid is like the Plug-in Hybrid but without such a big battery. It will thus be cheaper to buy, but the economy figures won’t be as impressive. The front-wheel-drive hybrid is projected to produce a combined system horsepower of 198, and a top speed of 85 mph in electric-only mode.

Hybrid models feature four EV modes, namely:

  • Auto EV – the vehicle decides whether to run on gas or electric
  • EV Now – the driver can operate on all-electric power
  • EV Later – drivers can switch to full gas-powered driving to conserve electric for later
  • EV Charge – charge the battery while driving to generate electric-only miles for later

Conventional gasoline engines include a 250 horsepower 2.0-liter EcoBoost producing 275 lb ft of torque using 93 octane fuel, along with a 1.5-liter EcoBoost producing 180 horsepower and 177lb ft of torque. In a first-for-Ford in North America, the 1.5-liter unit uses cylinder deactivation technology to conserve fuel.

New Ford Escape sliding rear seats

Engine availability and trim levels

  • S: 1.5-liter
  • SE: 1.5-liter, Plug-in Hybrid
  • SE Sport: Hybrid
  • SEL: 1.5-liter, Plug-in Hybrid
  • Titanium: 2.0-liter, Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid

Standard gasoline and hybrid versions will arrive in the fall, with plug-in hybrid units due to arrive next spring. Ford has sold more than 4.5 million Escapes in North America, so there’s a lot resting on the shoulders of this new version.

Fancy a faster Fiesta ST? There’s an app for that

Ford Fiesta ST Mountune M225

If you fancy a little more power from your Ford Fiesta ST, Mountune has the answer. Its new M225 upgrade sees the peak power increased from 200hp to 225hp, reducing the 0-60mph time from 6.5 seconds to “below the 6-second mark”.

But that’s not all, because Mountune has also unveiled an MTune Smartflash app, which allows users to install and update vehicle calibrations from their smartphone. 

Using nothing but the app and a supplied Bluetooth OBD interface, Fiesta ST owners can tweak the car to their needs as well as updating their vehicle to the latest calibrations directly from Mountune. 

The pack includes the OBD adapter, MTune Smartflash app, three calibrations (Performance, Stock and Anti-Theft), high-flow induction kit, Mountune badge and zip-up shell cars. It costs £662.50, or £479.16 for owners who have already upgraded their induction kit.

Switch modes in just two minutes

Fiesta Mountune badge

“Smartflash makes it incredibly easy for our customers to switch between vehicle calibrations in as little as two minutes, just using their phone,” said David Moore, director of Mountune Performance.

“It adds a new level of convenience and functionality to our packages and embodies our forward-thinking approach to vehicle performance upgrades. The new Fiesta ST is the perfect platform to launch this DIY-friendly, pioneering technology. No laptop, no wires, no handsets – no problem!”

The Fiesta ST’s peak power is boosted to 225hp, while torque is increased from 213lb ft to 250lb ft, with Mountune claiming that with the upgrade, the 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo engine delivers torque earlier and across the rev range.

In Performance mode, the Fiesta ST M225 delivers a more aggressive launch control strategy and enhanced audible exhaust output in Sport and Track modes. Stock mode returns the Fiesta to its standard configuration, while Anti-Theft fully immobilises the vehicle.

Mountune Ford Fiesta ST

“With M225 and our innovative new Smartflash system, owners can safely increase the performance of the Fiesta ST with unprecedented ease,” added David.

“With that almost instantaneous delivery of torque the ST really comes alive, but you also have peace of mind in knowing that this is an engineered upgrade. As with all Mountune packages, the M225 has undergone extensive performance and durability testing with all safety parameters retained.

“This is not just the best upgrade for the Fiesta ST, it is also the most robust.”

‘The faster you drive, the better you drive’

Ford Fiesta STWe have little doubt that the Mountune upgrade will add another layer of enjoyment to the Fiesta ST. Of the standard car, our man Richard Aucock said: “You can perhaps by now tell we think the Fiesta ST is a class act.

“It sounds a bit like a Porsche 911 and drives even more like one, exuding immense depth and connoisseur’s breeding. The faster you drive, the better you drive, the more it gives back – while doing all the regular Ford Fiesta stuff like being compact in town, easy to handle and comfortable to drive daily.

“The new Ford Fiesta ST really is that good. Five stars? You bet. After this first drive, if we could give it six, we would…”

Time to give the Mountune upgrade a spin, Richard? We can think of 225 reasons why this might be a good idea.

Legendary fast Fords up for auction – which would you choose?

CCA fast Ford sale

You could get your hands on a superb set of legendary fast Fords at the upcoming Classic Car Auctions sale.

The auction takes place on March 23 and 24 at the NEC in Birmingham, as part of the Practical Classics Classic Car and Restoration show.

Spanning the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, this foursome of fast Fords includes everything from a blue-collar American V8 to a quintessential hot hatch. 

Ford Escort Mk2 RS2000 X-Pack

CCA NEC

CCA calls this ‘the real stand out car’: a genuine, unmodified 1977 Escort RS2000 X-Pack, with 30-year same-family ownership, dry storage and a comprehensive history file. It’s estimated to go for between £30,000 and £38,000.

We think that’s pretty reasonable for what is a prime slice of ’70s everyman bravado. Those bulbous arches alone have our chequebook twitching.

Ford Escort RS1600i and Fiesta XR2

CCA NEC Ford

Among the poster children of Ford’s performance car golden era are the Escort RS 1600i and the Fiesta XR2.

The Escort has been subject to a full restoration and is thought to be one of just 95 left on the road. It was a rare car when new, with just 2,500 thought to have been produced for the UK market.

Granted, 79,000 miles sounds a little leggy, but with the right care, that’s nothing. It looks in top nick for £20,000 to £25,000.

CCA NEC

The Fiesta, while an example of a model that was famous for use and abuse by owners, has been in storage since 1986.

Having covered just 23,670 miles since it was bought in 1984, and with good history to boot, we reckon it’s worth every penny of the £14,000 to £18,000 estimated.

Ford Mustang CS GTS

CCA fast Ford sale

The Mustang CS GTS is an example of Ford’s pony car that British buyers could only have dreamed of in 1968, The CS GTS is a rare version, with just 3,867 built. That’s small numbers for a Mustang, believe us.

What isn’t small is the figure on the odometer. This pony has run a few nationals in its day, with 105,430 miles on the clock.

It has been extensively restored within the past 15 years, with photographic evidence to back that up. It’s got a good history of maintenance, so the mileage shouldn’t put anyone off bidding up to the £20,000 – £25,000 estimate.